AFTERFEAST OF THE THEOPHANY OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST
Afterfeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Our Righteous Father Theodosius the Cenobiarch, Nikephoros the New Martyr of Crete, Vitalis of Gaza
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE HEBREWS 13:7-16
Brethren, remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their lives, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
At that time Jesus returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'" And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I will give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'
And he took him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you, ' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
The fifth day of the Afterfeast of Theophany falls on January 11. Many of the hymns of this period glorify Christ as God Who sanctifies the waters of Jordan by being baptized in them.
Saint Theodosius the Great lived during the fifth-sixth centuries, and was the founder of cenobitic monasticism. He was born in Cappadocia of pious parents. Endowed with a splendid voice, he zealously toiled at church reading and singing. Saint Theodosius prayed fervently that the Lord would guide him on the way to salvation. In his early years he visited the Holy Land and met with Saint Simeon the Stylite (September 1), who blessed him and predicted future pastoral service for him.
Yearning for the solitary life, Saint Theodosius settled in Palestine into a desolate cave, in which, according to Tradition, the three Magi had spent the night, having come to worship the Savior after His Nativity. He lived there for thirty years in great abstinence and unceasing prayer. People flocked to the ascetic, wishing to live under his guidance. When the cave could no longer hold all the monks, Saint Theodosius prayed that the Lord Himself would indicate a place for the monks. Taking a censer with cold charcoal and incense, the monk started walking into the desert.
At a certain spot the charcoal ignited by itself and the incense smoke began to rise. Here the monk established the first cenobitic monastery, or Lavra (meaning “broad” or “populous”). Soon the Lavra of Saint Theodosius became renowned, and up to 700 monks gathered at it. According to the final testament of Saint Theodosius, the Lavra rendered service to neighbor, giving aid to the poor and providing shelter for wanderers.
Saint Theodosius was extremely compassionate. Once, when there was a famine in Palestine and a multitude of people gathered at the monastery, the monk gave orders to allow everyone into the monastery enclosure. His disciples were annoyed, knowing that the monastery did not have the means to feed all those who had come. But when they went into the bakery, they saw that through the prayers of the abba, it was filled with bread. This miracle was repeated every time Saint Theodosius wanted to help the destitute.
At the monastery, Saint Theodosius built a home for taking in strangers, separate infirmaries for monks and laymen, and also a shelter for the dying. Seeing that people from various lands gathered at the Lavra, the saint arranged for services in the various languages: Greek, Georgian and Armenian. All gathered to receive the Holy Mysteries in the large church, where divine services were chanted in Greek.
During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius (491-518) there arose the heresy of Eutychius and Severus, which recognized neither the sacraments nor the clergy. The emperor accepted the false teaching, and the Orthodox began to suffer persecution. Saint Theodosius stood firmly in defense of Orthodoxy and wrote a letter to the emperor on behalf of the monks, in which they denounced him and refuted the heresy with the teachings of the Ecumenical Councils. He affirmed moreover, that the desert-dwellers and monks would firmly support the Orthodox teaching. The emperor showed restraint for a short while, but then he renewed his persecution of the Orthodox. The holy Elder then showed great zeal for the truth. Leaving the monastery, he came to Jerusalem and in the church, he stood at the high place and cried out for all to hear: “Whoever does not honor the four Ecumenical Councils, let him be anathema!” For this bold deed the monk was sent to prison, but soon returned after the death of the emperor.
Saint Theodosius accomplished many healings and other miracles during his life, coming to the aid of the needy. Through his prayers he once destroyed the locusts devastating the fields in Palestine. Also by his intercession, soldiers were saved from death, and he also saved those perishing in shipwrecks and those lost in the desert.
Once, the saint gave orders to strike the semandron (a piece of wood hit with a mallet), so that the brethren would gather at prayer. He told them, “The wrath of God draws near the East.” After several days it became known that a strong earthquake had destroyed the city of Antioch at the very hour when the saint had summoned the brethren to prayer.
Before his death, Saint Theodosius summoned to him three beloved bishops and revealed to them that he would soon depart to the Lord. After three days, he died at the age of 105. The saint’s body was buried with reverence in the cave in which he lived at the beginning of his ascetic deeds.
Blessed Michael of Klops was of noble lineage, and he was a relative of Great Prince Demetrius of the Don (1363-1389). He took upon himself the exploit of foolishness for Christ to avoid the praise of men. Leaving Moscow dressed in rags, he arrived at the Klops monastery, near Novgorod.
No one knew how he got into the locked cell of the hieromonk Macarius, who was going round the cell censing during the Ninth Ode of the Canon. A man in monastic garb sat there beneath a candle, copying out the Acts of the Holy Apostles. After the end of Matins the igumen came with some of the brethren and asked the stranger who he was, and what his name was. But he responded only by repeating the questions, and did not reveal his origin.
In church the stranger sang in the choir and read the Epistle, and he also read the Lives of the Saints at meals. All who listened were moved by the beauty and spirituality of his reading. On the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Klops monastery was visited by Prince Constantine Dimitrievich (son of Great Prince Demetrius of the Don ).
After Communion he was in the trapeza with the princess, during which time the unknown stranger read from the Book of Job. Hearing the reading, the prince approached the reader and looked him over. Then he bowed down to him, calling his kinsman Michael Maximovich by name. The fool remarked, “Only the Creator knows me, and who I am,” but he confirmed that his name was Michael.
Saint Michael soon set an example for the brethren in all the monastic efforts. He lived at the Klops monastery for forty-four years, exhausting his body in work, vigils and various deprivations, and he received from the Lord the gift of clairvoyance.
He denounced the vices of people, not fearing the powerful of this world. He predicted the birth of Great Prince Ivan III on January 22, 1440, and his capture of Novgorod. He denounced Prince Demetrius Shemyaka for blinding his brother the Great Prince Basil the Dark (1425-1462).
On a sandy spot Saint Michael summoned forth a spring of water, having written upon the earth: “I will take the cup of salvation (Ps. 115/116:13), let the well-spring show forth on this spot.” And during a time of famine, the supplies of bread at the monastery granary did not diminish, though they distributed grain abundantly to the hungry.
Having indicated beforehand the place of his burial, the saint died on January 11, 1453.
Saint Theodosius of Antioch in his early years left the rich home of his illustrious parents and entered upon the straight and arduous path of asceticism. He settled into a small cell on the shore of the Gulf of Isska, near the city of Ossos. The saint weakened his body with prostrations and by lying upon the bare ground. He also wore a hairshirt and heavy iron chains. His hair grew so long that it covered his feet.
By continuous feats of fasting and prayer he conquered his fleshly and spiritual passions, he quieted his temper, and drove away unclean thoughts. He labored much, tilling his garden and occupying himself with plaiting ropes. In his native land Saint Theodosius founded a monastery (Skupela). He imparted to the monks a love for physical toil and for spiritual deeds. Saint Theodosius had a special concern for strangers.
The sublime life of the saint was known even beyond the confines of the monastery. Both Christians and pagans knew him. Seafarers in time of peril called out for help to “the God of Theodosius.” It happened that at the mere mention of Saint Theodosius, the waves of the sea were calmed. Brigands feared and respected him, and sought his prayers. Fleeing the praise of people, the saint settled near the village of Maraton, founding here the Maratonia monastery. There the great ascetic peacefully finished the days of his God-pleasing life (412).
Saint Theodosius, Metropolitan of Trebizond, was born in the village of Koritsa, near the Kastorian hills. At eighteen years of age he became a monk at Constantinople and went to the Philotheou monastery on Mt. Athos, where he led a strict ascetic life.
He was chosen igumen of the monastery in 1375, and afterwards was made Metropolitan of Trebizond because of the holiness of his life. He persuaded John Alexius Komnenos to build the monastery of Dionysiou on Mt. Athos. After a God-pleasing life, he died in Trebizond in 1392.
The only thing we known about this Icon is that it was located in the city of Yelts, Orlov Gubernia. In addition, the annals record the year of its appearance – 1060, which is the same as that of the Yelets-Chernigov Icon (February 5). Researchers believe that the Yelets Icon is a late copy of the Yelets-Chernigov Icon. In addition to the belt image of the Mother of God, there is another kind of Yelets Icon which depicts the appearance of the Queen of Heaven to Tamerlane in 1395 in the city of Yelets, before his march on Moscow.
The Holy Virgin appeared with a multitude of Saints, in a threatening vision to Tamerlane as he was resting in his tent on Mount Argamach. On the same day (August 26) the residents of Moscow met the wonderworking Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, praying before it for deliverance from the terrible invasion. Terrified by the vision, Tamerlane exclaimed, "So, we shall not defeat the land of Russia!" and then he retreated with his horde.
The Yelets Icon is commemorated on January 11, and also on August 26, in remembrance of Tamerlane's retreat. The Elets-Chernigov (or Chernigov Spruce Tree) Icon of the Mother of God is commemorated On February 5.